With 25.3 seconds remaining on the clock and the score locked at 74-74, the very vocal Taranaki crowd at the TSB Stadium were on their feet encouraging The Good Home Taranaki MountainAirs as loudly as they could.
Airs’ Brad Anderson and Suleiman Braimoh took time to settle the team as the clock counted down. Great team work found Suleiman who put up an awesome winning shot from just inside the arc leaving 1.6 seconds on the clock.
The noise was deafening as the crowd celebrated whilst the Wellington Saints called a time-out.
Air’s captain Aaron Bailey-Nowell’s outstanding effort was rewarded as he intercepted a Saints pass creating a win for the Airs 76-74.
He played a hard and aggressive game scoring a game high of 21 points being 7 from 9 field goals, 7 from 9 two pointers, 7 from 8 frees, topped by 6 rebounds, two blocks and 3 turnovers.
“Credit to everyone, we played as a team and that’s all we can ask for.
“For us it was all about coming together and playing as a team. We knew that Adrian and Nash weren’t going to be there so somebody else had to step up and big credit to the young guys. You look at the opportunity coach gave them and they took it with two hands and ran with it, you just have to look at the points they scored. We all know that Derek can shoot and he showed that tonight.”
“We came back and showed everybody that we can play together as a team and get a “W” at the end of the night.”
With Adrian Oliver and Nash Oh unavailable Coach Daryn Shaw again called on the experience of his Assistant Coach veteran Willie Banks to support the younger players.
“I came on just to make sure we had that level head out there and back up our young ones. Just make sure that we are steady – I’m pretty sure I did a little bit of that.”
“I don’t want to come out here and shoot. I want our young fellas like Derek to shoot who has some great shots. This team is all about our young fellas. I don’t need to shoot I need to get the ball to Suleiman, Derek and Aaron as the team is them really at the end of the day.”
“I think we went well. We didn’t fold. In previous games, close games like that we would have folded and that’s it. We just preserved, got some steals and some big rebounds. We just showed our character. This team is always fighting, grinding out for the win. In practice they do the best they can and it really showed out here on the floor.”
With the Saints scoring 17 points from turnovers compared to the Airs, as well as scoring 36 points in the paint compared to the Airs’ 24 then the score tied 7 times with the lead changing 9, the Airs’ style of “grinding” it out was very evident.
Derek Albertsen had an outstanding game scoring 18 points being 7 from 10 field goals, 4 from 5 two pointers and 3 from 5 three pointers along with 2 assists and 3 turnovers.
“I knew I had to take my opportunities with a couple of players down. I just went out firing, concentrating from the start and just gave it everything. I said to myself ‘I’m going to go out there and when I walk back off the court I did everything in my power to win the game’.”
“It was always going to be a tough game so it’s always good to grind it through for a win.”
Suleiman Braimoh had a good night scoring 19 points including a super three pointer and the game winning two pointer as well as 12 rebounds, 2 assists and 3 steals.
Brad Anderson again showed his skills scoring 12 points with 2 rebounds, 2 assists, 3 turnovers and a steal. Also Dane Brooks made his mark on the game with two impressive blocks, 6 rebounds and two turnovers.
During the first half of the game both sides failed to come out firing and were guilty of basic errors making a messy game with the Saints coming out with points on the board after some great plays.
Saints’ Lindsay Tait had a good game scoring 17 points 7 from 12 field goals, 7 from 11 two pointers and 3 from 3 frees. As did Corey Webster scoring 5 from 14 field goals, 2 from 5 three pointers and 4 from 4 frees.
The Airs’ felt the presence of Bryan Davis, scoring 13 points with 13 rebounds, 2 steals and 2 assists, along with Brandon Bowman, scoring 10 points with 8 rebounds and 3 turnovers, through their physical style of play.
The Good Home Taranaki MountainAirs 76 : Aaron Bailey-Nowell 21, Suleiman Braimoh 19, Derek Albertson 18, Brad Anderson 12.
Pacific Jewellers Wellington Saints 74 : Lindsay Tait 17, Corey Webster 16, Bryan Davis 13, Brandon Bowman 10